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Raaga :

Concept of Raaga :

The musical scale contains 7 + 5 notes. (7-shuddha & 5 komal and tivra)( flat and sharp).

From these 12 notes selected notes (minimum 5) are used to build up a melodic structure and are called a Raga. It is believed that there are about 300 Ragas. However, only around 50 are heard in performances. The lesser known and difficult to perform Ragas are called “Achhop’ and ‘Anavat’ or ‘Aprachalit’ respectively.

Every Raga has melodic centers, two of which include - one of principal importance and the other a little less important and are called Vadi’ and ‘Samvadi respectively. Notes which support Vadi and Samvadi notes are called Anuvadi notes. Notes that are excluded from the Raga structure are called Vivadi notes.

Ragas with melodic movements centered in the first half of the scale (Sa to Pa) is called “Purvang Ragas and the second half of the scale (Ma to upper octave Sa) are called ‘Uttarang Ragas’.

According to tradition, every Raga has a definite time period for performance during a time cycle of 24 hours. A large section of the music community accepts this concept even at present. Some believe that the concept is scientifically based on an intimate relationship between sound and light.

Tradition also has it that specific Ragas are performed during specific seasons such as spring, monsoon, etc. E.g. Basant, Bahar in spring time and Miyan Malhar and Desh in monsoon.

It is generally accepted that there are 9 basic emotions (Rasas), which form essential ingredient of any performance in the field of music, dance and theater. Every Raga, therefore has a basic emotion (Rasa) as an undercurrent of its exposition. It is however incorrect to believe that a complete Raga exposition from Alap to Jhala is based on only one Rasa. Allied Rasas do play significant role in Raga development depending upon the area of the melodic development, or the speed and the tempo at which the Raga is performed.

Note: A melodic structure cannot be called a Raga unless it is accepted by the music community at large.

Concept of Melodic Unfoldment :

Alap has two major subdivisions called Vilambit Alap and JodAlap.

  1. VilambitAlap has no discernable rhythm and is based on an easy flow of melodic development and gradual unfoldment of the Raga.
  2. Jod Alap is based on introduction of a progressive (not cyclic) tempo, essentially based on a beat structure of 1-2, 1-2 (hence it is called Jod meaning a “pair”). The tempo of the Jod section is gradually increased, through three main *stages called Jod, Madh-Jod, and Ati-Jod. According to Etawa gharana Imdadkhani gharana tradition, at the end of Ati-Jod a section called ‘Ulta Jhala’ is performed as a culmination of the process.

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